Relationships and romance are two complicated subjects. When you add the internet, dating websites, and social media, that makes everything twice as complicated and twice as confusing. In Erich R. Merkle and Rhonda A. Richardson’s article Digital Dating and Virtual Relating: Conceptualizing Computer Mediated Romantic Relationships, the authors say the internet and computer mediated relationships (CMR) complicated some of the basic concepts in relationships. These ideas include intimacy, faithfulness, and the steps in creating a relationship. As article continues, the authors note that the space in which a relationship is created via computer is much different than a “face-to-face”. This is not to say that it is bad to have a computer mediated relationship, but it is different than the traditional relationship. It is more complicated because there are no strict set of standards for the CMR. A prime example is when a conflict arises, which the author mention. In a face-to-face relationship, you cannot just ignore the issue at hand. On the other hand, in a CMR one can “freely disengage” from what is happening.
After reading this article, watching the film Noah, and reflecting on personal experience, I do not think it is possible to have a truly fulfilling and sexual relationship that takes place primarily online. In the film, when Noah went into Amy’s, his girlfriend, Facebook and changer her relationship status, the scene showed how insecure he was. He kept checking her status and made a big deal when she changed her profile picture. This is not to say insecurity is not present it a “face-to-face” relationship that the article above talks about, but it is easier to talk about the insecurities and get rid of them. Online, every change, every comment, every photo affects the relationship. To Noah, these changes she was breaking up with. Since she was not responding to his texts or messages, this intensified the insecurity. Time and change are two major factors in an online relationship. While watching the film, Noah is constantly on different websites, especially when he communicates with other. Multitasking is a skill, but when you multitask in a relationship, especially an online relationship, the intimacy disappears. Even when he is video calling with her, he is browsing Facebook, closing out of a porn tab, and so on. He is not focused on her. The only time he is focused is when the call is disconnected. I think that an online relationship can assist a “face-to-face” relationship. For example, if one person is studying abroad or on a long business trip, being online can help the relationship. However, I think the basis for a relationship should be in person. There has to be a body present. You cannot receive a physically hug from a screen, you cannot hold hands with a computer screen, and you cannot receive a physical kiss from a computer screen. With an online relationship, all the physical intimacy disappears.
From my personal experience, I have had a traditional dating experience. We met in person more than talking or communicating online. We talked via online when I was up at school. I think this put a strain on the relationship because we were not physically seeing each other, only using text message or Skype. It is harder to understand how one feels over a text or Facebook message. For me, I am able to “read” someone when in person. It is easier to see their emotions and reactions. With the future generations, I think CMR and online relationships will become more popular. As we gain new technology and ways to communicate, we begin to loose the old ways of communication. For example, people prefer text messaging to phone calling. I have talked to people who ask me why I called when a quick text message would have been good. It is getting harder and harder to talk to people in person. This will affect relationships and intimacy in future generations.